August 31, 2011
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Wed 31 Aug (Matchroom Stadium, Leyton Orient) Tottenham Hotspur U19s 7-1 Inter Milan U19s
Scorers: Gomelt 3, Coulibaly 2, Pritchard 2
Jack Barthram (17) Kevin Stewart (17) Milos Veljkovic (15) Daniel Day (17)
Jake Nicholson (19) (c) Massimo Luongo (18)
Alex Pritchard (18) Laste Dombaxe (17) Tomislav Gomelt (16)
Souleymane Coulibaly (16)
Cristian Ceballos (18) for Jake Nicholson, 46.
Ronnie Hawkins (17) for Massimo Luongo, 73.
Horacio Cristian Olaya (17) for Kevin Stewart, 75.
Billy Grainger (??)
Jack Munns (17)
Spurs made a few changes from their first NextGen Series match; with Hawkins on the bench, and Carroll and Kane not involved, Luongo (now fit again after injury), Barthram, and Gomelt (who it seems may now have signed permanently after being on trial from Croatian side NK Zagreb) came into the side.
The Spurs formation was as shown, but it’s worth noting that the three players in behind Coulibaly were given license to roam, and were very fluid in their movement. Dombaxe was, generally speaking, more central, but the other two switched regularly in the first half.
It took a while for both sides to settle and Spurs didn’t start the game especially well. After a few minutes, Milos Veljkovic gave away the first of many fouls just outside our box, and Inter worked a very clever free kick. A square ball, and then a slide-rule pass between two defenders fell just ahead of their striker, and Spurs had a bit of a let off.
Luongo started to get hold of the ball, and showed his attacking intent; he first dragged a shot well wide, and then was put through towards the left corner of the Inter box, but his attempted trick failed to take him beyond the last man. Minutes later, he was involved in the move from which we opened the scoring. We seemed to pass ourselves into a dead end in the middle of the pitch, but Luongo held on to the ball (as he does so well) and managed to find Stewart with a pass into the right back area. Stewart curled forward first time, and Alex Pritchard sprung the offside trap and finished firmly, giving the goalkeeper little chance (1-0 – video here courtesy of ‘1961GloryGlory’).
Stewart gave away a free kick near the corner flag with a clumsy challenge, but Inter’s delivery was poor and Gomelt cleared at the near post. Spurs got their second goal from nothing. Luongo hit a sort of up and under, hopeful ball forward, and it bounced kindly for Coulibaly. He surged forward and finished emphatically (2-0).
Spurs scored a third a minute later – unfortunately I didn’t see the lead up to the goal, as some late arrivals showed up and I had to temporarily vacate my seat (!), but Gomelt suddenly found himself in acres of space in the right-hand corner of the box, and finished superbly into the far corner (3-0).
Luongo and Nicholson were totally dominating the central midfield region, and Inter tried to change a few things – for example, they temporarily moved their imposing left-winger, Joseph Duncan, into the central area to try to out-muscle our two, but the chances kept coming. Pritchard dragged a shot wide, and then Day got forward well to get on the end of a superb Luongo through-ball, but was muscled out of it by the Inter full-back. Gomelt then showed great vision to ping a ball wide from a central area, but the move broke down when Dombaxe was caught offside.
On 23 minutes, Jake Nicholson pushed forward and had a shot blocked – the ball ricocheted back into his path, and he cleverly played first-time into the feet of Gomelt. Despite Coulibaly confusing the Inter defenders by being offside, Gomelt did look to be onside and so when he calmly slotted home, it was 4-0.
After the restart, Daniel Day picked up a booking for a bad foul on Giannetti, who required treatment, and the resulting free kick was cleared after an attempted near post back-heel lacked power.
Spurs were starting to play some great stuff now, with Pritchard and Luongo in particular pulling the strings – Luongo drilled one delightful first time pass out to Pritchard, but it was just intercepted .
Barthram got forward down the right and whipped in a cross which skimmed off the head of one of the centre backs and fell to Pritchard. Stretching, he managed to prod the ball back into the danger area, and Coulibaly attempted an overhead kick, which he skied (video here). Next, Pritchard tricked his way forward beautifully, but Dombaxe dallied and then lost the ball. The next goal wasn’t long coming, though, and it was very well worked. Luongo played a brilliantly-weighted pass down the right hand side, Dombaxe crossed first time, and Coulibaly, stretching, met it on the half volley and looped it up over the goalkeeper (5-0 – another video, courtesy of ‘1961GloryGlory’).
Luongo was running riot in midfield, often beating a man for fun before laying off to a team-made. He jinked past Simone Pecorini, and the Italian grabbed his shirt right in front of the referee, which earned him a booking. Kevin Stewart then committed another foul of the edge of our box, after Nicholson had given Luongo a bit of an iffy pass, but it again came to nothing.
Inter won a corner, and Coulibaly suddenly charged back just before it was taken to pick up a man on the edge of the box. As the ball was headed out, it went right to where he had positioned himself, but unfortunately he tripped the Inter player, and we had to deal with yet another free kick on the edge of the box. Fortunately, this time it was curled a foot wide of the far post.
We had another slight defensive scare on 36 minutes, when Veljkovic charged forward to meet a loose ball, but was beaten to the bounce by Daniel Bessa. Stewart tracked him and did really well to force him wide – he eventually got a shot away, but from that position it was going to have to be pretty good to beat Miles. From this, we went straight up the other and scored a sixth! Pritchard again played a fantastic through-ball, opening up the defence, and Gomelt showed his excellent finishing skills again to complete his hat-trick (6-0).
Spurs had barely finished celebrating their sixth when Inter made inroads into the box and had a man over on the far left of the box. As Gomelt tracked back to try to stop him getting a shot in, he tripped him; it was a definite penalty. The referee, Warren Atkin, called Gomelt over and seemed to take forever to decide what to do, before eventually showing a red-card for the player who had just completed his hat-trick; a very harsh decision. Gomelt trotted off to a round of applause, and seemed to be questioning the decision with Ferdinand and Sherwood. Not long after Inter had dispatched the penalty, Ferdinand was obviously still a bit upset, as the referee walked over, perhaps to explain the decision.
Inter had a couple of chances in the last few minutes of the half -first, Joseph Duncan went on a good run, but then inadvertently blocked Andrea Romano’s shot, and then Duncan himself shot wide. Miles then made a decent reflex save from a well-struck shot from the edge of the box.
Spurs changed things at half-time, taking off Jake Nicholson, and giving recent signing Cristian Ceballos a run-out. Pritchard moved into central midfield with Luongo, whilst Ceballos and Dombaxe supported Coulibaly.
The half started slowly with the teams a lot more even at 11 vs 10! Coulibaly smashed a shot wide and over, and Veljkovic showed his ability defending well one-on-one against substitute Jakub Vojtus. Massimo Luongo picked a fantastic ball for Coulibaly, which he couldn’t quite control.
Spurs should have had a penalty on 58 minutes when Alex Pritchard won the ball in midfield, showed a clever trick, and then fed Coulibaly, who was promptly bundled over – the referee waved play on. A couple of minutes later Coulibaly was appealing again – he ran in behind, and rounded a fallen defender, who he then tripped over – he called for a penalty, but only got a corner.
Ceballos was seeing a fair bit of the ball, and showed plenty of dribbling ability, but much less an eye for a pass. At one point Luongo had made a supporting run on the left, and the pass was not a difficult one, but Ceballos instead turned into traffic and lost possession.
Pritchard bagged his second of the game with a free kick after a foul on the edge of the Inter penalty area. Ceballos seemed to be lining the kick up, but Pritchard took it, and found the corner (7-1 – video here, with thanks to ‘1961GloryGlory’ for the steady hand).
Gianmarco Falasca was booked for a cynical challenge on Pritchard, and Spurs made a couple of changes – Olaya (who I presume is a trialist/recent signing) coming on at the back for Stewart, and Hawkins on in midfield for Luongo, who was struggling to run off a knock.
Miles made a decent save to the bottom left of his goal, and a flowing move from the away side ended with Duncan blasting well over from distance. Veljkovic was easily beaten and a drive was well-saved by Miles at his near post before, at the other end, the Inter goalkeeper presented the ball straight to Cellabos, who wasted the chance.
Dombaxe had been moved a bit deeper for the closing stages, but Sherwood switched him and Ceballos shouting “get on the ball, Cris”. He duly did so, and did better in his few minutes in this deeper role, playing simple passes and playing himself out of tight corners.
Spurs nearly got an eighth when Pritchard won the ball well and found Coulibaly with an excellent pass. Soli had a quick glance up, and tried an ambitious chip from a long way out, but it drifted over the bar. In the final minute, Pritchard won the ball in midfield again, slipped in Coulibaly for his final hat-trick chance, but he couldn’t quite get on the end of it, with the keeper judging it well and rushing out at his feet.
The second half was, as you would expect, a lot quieter than the first, but Spurs edged it even with 10 men, and deserved to win it 1-0! The 7-1 scoreline was not especially flattering – Spurs really were that good in the first half, and Inter that poor.
Jonathan Miles 7 – He wasn’t really tested, but did what he needed to do, saving smartly at both posts and getting good distance on his punches.
Jack Barthram 8 – Reminds me of Adam Smith with his commitment to tackles and energy in getting forward. Always willing to support the attack.
Kevin Stewart 8 – Very calm on the ball, and quite intelligent defensively. Seems to be much more assured than when I first saw him, and looks very good in one-on-one situations.
Milos Veljkovic 7 – Made a couple of mistakes one-on-one, and gave away some free kicks in dangerous areas, but on the whole he did well and his use of the ball was decent.
Daniel Day 7 – Very enthusiastic, but occasionally reckless. He is one player who really helps to set the tempo, though, which is always needed.
Jake Nicholson 7 – A calm head who uses the ball well. Had a very assured first half, and then was withdrawn when the job was done.
Massimo Luongo 9 – A class act. Great user of the ball, good defensive qualities, very strong and robust. Looking forward to seeing him get some first team chances.
Alex Pritchard 9 – My Man of Match. Scored two (an excellent finish having broken the offside trap, and a free kick from the edge of the box) and was involved in most of our good play. Played off the flank in the first half, and found pockets of space which caused Inter all sorts of problems. Technically excellent with a great attitude too.
Laste Dombaxe 7 – He seems to be feeling his way in back in after a lengthy spell on the sidelines last year. Did well, and got a great assist for Soli, but seemed to tire by the end.
Tomislav Gomelt 8 – What a strange match for him! Scored three excellent goals (a nice variety of finishes too) and showed some good touches, movement and passing, but then unfortunately got a harsh red card for the trip which lead to the penalty. Presuming that he’s a permanent signing, I look forward to seeing more of him.
Souleymane Coulibaly 8 – My first glimpse, and he was pretty much what I expected. An enthusiastic, live-wire striker who never stops pressing/harrying. A good finisher with good technique, but a tendency to take on shots that perhaps he shouldn’t. At just 16 he’s an exciting prospect!
Cristian Ceballos – Clearly a good technician with excellent dribbling ability, but needs to work on when to release the ball.
Ronnie Hawkins – used the ball well and made some decent challeges. Didn’t have too many chances to show off his excellent left foot.
Horacio Cristian Olaya– a big lad with Puyol-esque hair who looked a strong presence at the back, and intelligent user of the ball.
A final word about Inter; they looked a physically imposing side, but were ponderous on the ball and didn’t cope at all well with our quick one and two touch passing moves. A couple of their players seemed to do OK (Daniel Bessa in particular), but on the whole they will be very disappointed with this showing.
One late addition – it was nice to see Kyle Walker, Dean Parrett, Tom Carroll, John Bostock, David Button, Andros Townsend and a number of other players there watching their team-mates.